Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Magazine Makeover

Several issues ago, Bon Appetit, one of my favorite food 'zines, unwrapped it's total redesign to readers & subscribers. Ostensibly, the redesign will be more appealing to what I can only assume the advertising and art departments believe to be a changing demographic in readership. Gone is the inviting and sumptuous food photography we had become accustomed to by talents like Brian Leatart & Gary Moss... also gone is the warm, homey feel of the magazine.

In it's place, Bon Appetit has gone for a more decidedly urban feel, using modern typefaces and edgier graphic design. Photo Editor Elizabeth Mathews has also brought in some of the new stars of portraiture and conceptual still-life. The current issue features cover and feature story food photographs by Craig Cutler.  Also lending a hand to the new look is the immediately recognizable work of portrait photographer Jill Greenberg who created quite a stir in the art world earlier this year with her portraits of children in distress (you can find excerpts of this work by clicking on Jill's name above and going to the portfolio "End Times").

While the chef's portraiture by Greenberg I feel is quite successful, I am less sure of the food images by Cutler. Normaly, I'm a big fan of Craig's work, but this issue's images are stark, unstyled food on white plates in a large filed of reflective black plexiglass on the cover and equally deconstructed images in the feature story that just don't work for me.

Overall, the food photography in recent issues since the redesign first debuted is in the new style and vein of the stripped down, food in your face, unstyled variety... and I think much of it is very well done. Thumbing thru the current issue this long holiday weekend, I was left scratching my head...

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